WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Elected Leadership Group talks stations tomorrow; WS Chamber advocates for tunneling

With less than a week remaining for “scoping” comments on Sound Transit’s West Seattle light rail, the newest developments:

ELECTED LEADERSHIP GROUP TOMORROW: The slide deck is available for tomorrow’s 9 am-noon meeting of the Elected Leadership Group, which next month will make its routing/station-location environmental-study recommendations. The meeting is centered around station locations – particularly Delridge – and the West Seattle material in this deck starts on page 56 (some of it was reviewed at the Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting we covered last week). This, for example, is from page 84 of tomorrow’s 99-slide deck:

The Friday ELG meeting will include a public-comment period – the agenda says Delridge station comment will be accepted starting at 10:30 am. The meeting will be at the ST board room on the south end of downtown, 401 S. Jackson. (Added: See this comment if the “agenda” link still isn’t working.)

CHAMBER BACKS TUNNELING: Various local organizations are working to finalize their official comments before the “scoping” period ends Tuesday. The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce has gone public with theirs:

The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce (WSCC) is committed to promoting sustainable economic growth of a diverse, viable business community. One of the biggest challenges to achieving this goal is our present transportation infrastructure. To support the future viability of the business community on the West Seattle peninsula, the WSCC has 3 main objectives by which any light rail proposal should be assessed:

Does the solution improve the quality of life for residents ( i.e. customers and business owners) who live and work in and around the proposed alignments and station locations?

Does the solution improve the movement of people and commerce?

Does the solution minimize the disruption to economic activity during and after construction as well as provide suitable mitigation measures?

The WSCC continues to have grave concerns about the present alignments that appear to moving forward for further study in the upcoming Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. The WSCC would like to put forward the following concerns and comments from our business community here in West Seattle:

Given the increased density in our West Seattle neighborhoods, we feel that it is essential that Sound Transit (ST) have an even deeper engagement with the residents and business owners that are going to be impacted by the proposed alignments. While we appreciate ST’s engagement to-date, we strongly believe more is necessary. Everyone impacted by the various alignments needs to fully understand the unique potential impacts each alternative could have on each individual neighborhood’s residents and businesses.

In certain potentially impacted neighborhoods, ST must take into consideration the low-income population, diversity of cultures, potential for language barriers, and afford the same level of outreach that other areas have received prior to the Elected Leaders Group (ELG) making any Level 3 recommendations. This could include, but is not necessarily limited to:

Bus-rail integration at the different station locations

Providing the best service to communities that are further south of any of the proposed alignments or station locations

Transit oriented development opportunities that are equitable

Displacement and gentrification risks near the potential station locations of alignment choice whether the placement is north or south of the West Seattle bridge

The WSCC would offer these observations about alternate station terminations in the West Seattle Junction Hub Urban Village:

-The 44th Ave SW location would appear to be the most disruptive and least convenient

-The alternative location spanning SW Alaska St will disrupt traffic for many years during construction

-The 41st Ave SW location will be less disruptive to traffic and more convenient for feeder and distributor traffic modes especially navigating the grade from Fauntleroy Way to Alaska Street.

-The proposed stations on either 41st or 42nd Ave SW will have an adverse impact on many business locations and increased housing density that is developing in this area.

-The Avalon Station must be included to intercept the bus traffic from the south on 35th Ave SW, reduce transit traffic in the Alaska Junction Station site and therefore providing more reliable and safer service in the coming years.

It would also be advisable to start the tunneling phase in this area at Avalon and continue into the Junction station.

Consideration should also be given that any proposal of an elevated light rail system should not work against the planning for the Fauntleroy Blvd beautification project that has been worked on by the community for almost 20 years

Consider that an elevated light rail line would go right over the “gateway” to West Seattle

Further, the WSCC would like to understand the specific construction impacts through each proposed route, especially around each of the proposed station locations as well as along the Duwamish crossing, and would like significantly more detail around the Alaska Junction terminus.

It is impossible to imagine an elevated alignment along the Spokane Street route that would not be debilitating during construction, and destructive to the quality of life of West Seattle residents and businesses when completed. The WSCC understands that mitigation would be required and wants to better understand what mitigation Sound Transit would be providing along this critical corridor if ST were to proceed with an elevated alignment. Given the extended construction period, the WSCC feels that it is important that ST considers further study of another route not along the Spokane corridor to provide the community and businesses with clear, distinct options.

The WSCC continues to support further study of segments of the “Purple Line” alignment with these observations:

-Span the Duwamish Waterway south of the West Seattle bridge to avoid interference of Port of Seattle activities that need access to Spokane St SW

-Consider alternatives to an elevated Delridge Station as it will have multiple negative impacts on the surrounding community, bus travel routes, nearby residences, sports activity spaces and cultural spaces.

-Provides immensely less impacts on the North Delridge community and North Delridge business node

Impacts of traffic from the Port of Seattle/Northwest Seaport Alliance operations, operations at Nucor Steel and traffic egressing and ingressing the Pigeon Point neighborhood (including traffic to Pathfinder School).

The WSCC supports the tunnel alternatives. The cost of tunneling will be somewhat offset by two factors: 1) the continuing reduction of the cost of tunneling through advancement of tunneling technologies and 2) the cost savings from not having to purchase as much residential housing stock and commercial land as would be needed to complete an elevated line into and through the heart of West Seattle.

In conclusion the WSCC would urge the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG), the ELG, and the ST board to continue to move forward with the proposed expansion of light rail to the West Seattle peninsula as rapidly as possible. It is imperative that the proposed alternate “Purple Line” which as proposed would cross the Duwamish River at a more southern location be included as part of any upcoming EIS scope for these reasons:

It would more easily allow two tunnel segments to be built more easily. One under the Pigeon Point neighborhood and the second from SW Avalon Way to the Alaska Junction.

The tunnel options would increase the opportunity for more transit-oriented development

Interconnecting of existing transit systems and those to come would be far easier to accomplish

Will help to preserve the urban landscape in West Seattle by eliminating towering pillars that will reduce existing travel lanes.

Will reduce oppressive shadows that will be cast by any elevated rail line.

Reduce the potential noise pollution not only in the Delridge corridor but along any other stretch of elevated line through our West Seattle community.

Minimize the potentially vast and impactful scope of taking by eminent domain of as much existing housing stock and commercial/business properties as appears to be envisioned by any of the elevated lines.

Minimize the impact on our West Seattle businesses and traffic during the construction as seems to be envisioned by any of the elevated lines.

The WSCC and our entire West Seattle business community are committed to working with the SAG, ELG and ST Board. The WSCC would welcome further discussion of any of these alternatives as you move closer to a final decision on the scope of the upcoming EIS.


Lauren Burgon, Board Chair
Julia Jordan, C.E.O.

HAVE YOU COMMENTED YET? Again, Tuesday is the deadline in this key “scoping” period before one or more preferred alternatives goes into environmental study. The ST “online open house” includes info and commenting options.

33 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Elected Leadership Group talks stations tomorrow; WS Chamber advocates for tunneling"

  • Annoyed March 28, 2019 (1:27 pm)

    Giving lip service to concerns about low-income residents without any consideration of how the tunnel and other alignment requests affect future expansion south is so irritating.  News flash: the Junction is not a low-income area.  I sure as heck can’t afford to live there and neither can anyone else I know.  Tunneling now means they’ll have to tunnel more when expanding to Burien and White Center.  Which in turn means higher costs and a longer time line to get light rail to the ACTUAL low-income areas of West Seattle.  It would be cool if the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce would consider the WHOLE of West Seattle and not just the Junction business district and the handful of people who work little enough to show up to every meeting and complain.

    • Also John March 28, 2019 (5:36 pm)

      @Annoyed,   Your argument regarding ‘getting the light rail south to where it’s more needed’ is why many have suggested heading south down Delridge or 35th.  

    • J March 28, 2019 (8:00 pm)

      Well said. I completely agree!

    • Brian Hughes March 28, 2019 (8:14 pm)

      Wow… thanks for being so callus to the hundreds of people who would lose their homes to a 41st station oriented N/S.  And thanks also for assuming any of us who advocate for a livable solution (a tunnel) in the Junction don’t work.  Break “assumption” up into syllables, look in the mirror, and see if one of them describes the person looking back at you  A N/S oriented station in the junction makes no sense if it means the loss of more than 100 homes during the ST3 phase, and even less sense if it means the destruction of all homes along 41st south to Burien in a future expansion.We can find the money for a tunnel.  Anyone who says otherwise capitulates to a myopic and unimaginative view of our West Seattle future. 

      • natinstl March 31, 2019 (10:19 am)

        If you attended the meeting, they have no true costs estimates for the elevated or the tunnel. Bellevue gave Sound Transit rights of way in order to help fund the tunnel. There are ways the city of Seattle could do similar to lower cost of the tunnel. They were very clear in the meeting to advocate for what you think is best for WS because they only have 5% of scoping done.

    • natinstl March 31, 2019 (10:16 am)

      Remember Burien actually has to vote to fund light rail also. While they are taking it into account it doesn’t mean they will vote to fund it. It’s not included in ST3.

  • dsa March 28, 2019 (2:50 pm)

    “The Friday ELG meeting will include a public-comment period – the agenda says Delridge station comment will be accepted starting at 10:30 am”   The ‘the agenda’ link seems to be broken. 

  • Also John March 28, 2019 (3:26 pm)

    Thank you WSB for keeping us all informed on this very crucial decision…

  • sam-c March 28, 2019 (3:35 pm)

    “The WSCC continues to support further study of segments of the “Purple Line” alignment with these observations:”is that the purple line depicted on page 65-69, etc of the linked PDF?    

  • dsa March 28, 2019 (3:57 pm)

    An EIS evaluation  is supposed to compare each alternatives impacts with the existing condition and some date in the future, called “no build”.  For some reason, cost maybe, I think the southern river crossing combined with a Pigeon Hill tunnel got dropped.  That is a mistake for multiple reasons.  (1) The Spokane  corridor does not serve but a very small portion of Delridge.  (2) The Spokane corridor costs are likely to sky rocket as utilities and industrial s are moved and bought.   Those and other unexpected costs in the industrialized crowded area would make the tunnel more competitive.  (3) The Spokane corridor is already transportation bottle necked with more squeezing coming from terminal 5.  (4)  The loss of businesses, homes, visual, noise, loss of sunshine, and space impacts  can all be avoided by the use of a couple of tunnels.  It is worth the cost.  This is a unique opportunity.  It will only come around once.  Do it correctly, do it wrong, it can’t be undone.

    • Neighbor March 29, 2019 (9:43 am)

      Regarding your second point, exactly what “industrials” are you referring to as being moved or bought? 

  • 98126res March 28, 2019 (4:05 pm)
    ELG  Elected Leadership Group (11 people)
    KC Exec Dow ConstantineMayor Jenny DurkanCity Councilmembers: Bruce Harrell, Joe McDermott, Lisa Herbold, Lorena González, Mike O’Brien, Rob Johnson, Sally BagshawPort of Seattle: Stephanie BowmanSound Transit Board Chair: Dave Somers
  • B Dahlia March 28, 2019 (5:38 pm)

    Skylark and the office park look like they’re toast.  That’s too bad, since PNTA is one of the last Audio/Video/Lighting/Staging companies left in Seattle.  Other firms have moved to Kent and other areas out of Seattle, which makes local, quick access to equipment challenging for producers, production houses, and theatres.  

    • dsa March 28, 2019 (6:15 pm)

      Loosing a one of a kind company like PMTA is a special impact, which would have to be treated differently, adding to the unknown costs of any Spokane route.   

    • west_seattle_steve March 31, 2019 (2:48 pm)

      PNTA has moved over the years. They started in SLU on Westlake AVE, then moved to SODO near UPS. I don’t think they should be considered a factor in light rail that is a 50-100 year transportation plan.

  • East Coast Cynic March 28, 2019 (7:12 pm)

    Well maybe those business savvy people with the WSCC can figure out HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THE MONEY FOR A TUNNEL?  The other areas that are getting rail, e.g., Snohomish, Pierce, will not tolerate having money taken from their projects to fund our tunnel luxury.

    • Brian Hughes March 29, 2019 (1:42 am)

      East Coast Cynic, check out Seth and dsa’s comments above… we need to advance the tunnel option to the next level so it can be compared. As Seth mentions, any cost estimates are essentially baseless at this point.  The Orange line, as proposed, removes housing and precludes anything from ever being built above it.  This is a substantial opportunity cost.  And some costs are subjective, such the division of our community by an unsightly and over-bearing elevated line.  Would you want to live next to it?  We need the additional evidence the EIS will provide before we make a decision that changes the neighborhood forever. 

  • Villagegreen March 28, 2019 (11:37 pm)

    It’s not their job to find the money. It’s their job to make a scoping comment. Or maybe this will make more sense to you, IT’S NOT THEIR JOB TO FIND THE MONEY. IT’S THEIR JOB TO MAKE A SCOPING COMMENT. 

    • Nolan March 29, 2019 (7:24 am)

      And when they refuse to defund other expansions to pay for that vanity project, y’all are gonna be in for a real “surprise”. Either have the money ready, or make peace with the fact that no amount of feedback will bend economic reality.

  • KC March 29, 2019 (2:23 am)

    Honestly, I am shocked that Seattle would even consider building a flyover, elevated light rail into West Seattle. The ugliness, dirt, and noise, not to mention neighbourhood destruction,  should be enough to rule this out. I am a huge supporter of public transport, but no first class city in the world is building elevated light rail though residential neighbourhoods. New York and Paris, among others,  have pulled theirs down. Think what a huge ,noisy, filthy eyesore the  Alaska Viaduct is.  Good riddance. If Seattle can’t find the money for a tunnel, don’t build the light rail. We’ll wait. Or put the tracks in the middle of the street like Vienna and Melbourne,AU which regularly alternate as #1 most livable cities. Please, please, no L’s. 

    • greg March 29, 2019 (8:33 am)

      KC have you ever been to Chicago ? I lived in Chicago for 16 years and the elevated light rail (L) is considered iconic.  In Chicago if you live close to the L your property value is 50% HIGHER than if you are far away.  Finally, the Seattle light rail is about 75% quieter than the Chicago trains so it’s really not going to be that bad.  It’s ridiculous that Seattle doesn’t already have a train system and continued waiting will only make it more and more expensive for our kids and kids kids.  I say build it now as quickly as possible. 

      • TALLY on 42nd March 31, 2019 (8:27 pm)

         This is Seattle, not Chicago or an East Coast city.  Just remember:  unsightliness and dark shadows were cited by many voters when they opted against the proposed Ballard to WS monorail link, even though it was then the only transit option on the table.   Such esthetic /appearance considerations affect the surrounding communities and are important to us in this city.  West Seattle shouldn’t throw in the towel and accept a less than desirable elevated train just because it’s the cheapest.  Working together as a community, including affected businesses, there is no reason the tunnel option can’t be funded and constructed.  If it takes a little longer, it’s certainly worth the wait because it’s doing the right thing.

    • Jort March 29, 2019 (11:58 am)

      This is definitely a first: we should build a tunnel because of the impacts of “dirt” associated with elevated rail? That’s a good one. Damn you, dirt!

    • East Coast Cynic March 29, 2019 (3:58 pm)

      The Flushing Line in NYC, which goes to Citi Field passes above and through neighborhoods in Queens.  A nice scenic ride; If you ever go to NYC, try it.As of a few years ago, from my experience, the Paris Metro passes through many neighborhoods on elevated lines.

      • anon March 31, 2019 (10:21 am)

        I’m from Queens, living amongst the elevated line is not enjoyable. It might be nice if you’re riding it, but not if you have to live next to it.

        • CAM March 31, 2019 (3:27 pm)

          The train systems in NY, Chicago, Paris, London, etc. are all very old at this point. They are louder and rely upon less advanced technology than modern light rail. It’s disingenuous to compare the impacts of living next to any of those train lines to what is going to be built here. And even despite that, it remains extremely popular to live as close as possible to any of those train lines or stations and residential and commercial property is highly sought after next to train lines and stations. You may not have enjoyed it personally but statistics would suggest that there are more people that disagree with you than there are that agree with you. 

          • Anon March 31, 2019 (4:30 pm)

            I’d like to see where some of those statistics are. Can you point me to them? They may be popular places to live because the prices for those units are less due to living next to an elevated line. In an expensive city sometimes you take what you can get.

  • Angry on 41st March 29, 2019 (9:08 pm)

    Thanks a lot West Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Least disruptive eh? Yeah, I’m not going to find it disruptive when my home is a hole in the ground. I’ll be taking my business out of West Seattle from now on. 

  • dcn March 30, 2019 (11:31 am)

    I commented about the Delridge Station. They should not place it north of Andover. That area is much harder to access from the neighborhood. Southbound Delridge is backed up daily during the evening commute onto the WS bridge off-ramp. It would be difficult for buses to stop there to connect to the line. South of Andover or the North of Genesse options make so much more sense.  With so much of the  focus on the Junction Station, we should also make sure the other stations are placed in the best locations.

Sorry, comment time is over.